Ancient Monuments

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Eldon Hill crushing circle, associated lead mining remains and palisaded enclosure on Eldon Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Peak Forest, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.3267 / 53°19'36"N

Longitude: -1.8253 / 1°49'31"W

OS Eastings: 411730.457168

OS Northings: 381103.072579

OS Grid: SK117811

Mapcode National: GBR HYPZ.M5

Mapcode Global: WHCCK.XNZ0

Entry Name: Eldon Hill crushing circle, associated lead mining remains and palisaded enclosure on Eldon Hill

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1985

Last Amended: 15 July 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020992

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29964

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Peak Forest

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Peak Forest and Dove Holes

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes the earthwork, buried, standing and rock cut remains
of Eldon Hill crushing circle and associated lead mining remains and a
Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age palisaded hilltop enclosure. The
monument is located on the brow and southern slopes of Eldon Hill
approximately 470m above sea level.

The lead working remains are located on a vein of lead ore known as Burning
Drake Vein. The vein occurs in the Bee Low Limestone and runs across the
summit of Eldon Hill in a north east to south west alignment, close to the
southern boundary of Eldon Hill Quarries.

It is unclear when the site was first worked but the crushing circle (an area
where ore was crushed ready for further treatment) is believed to be 18th
century in origin. The vein would have been worked under the jurisdiction of
the Barmote Courts, the legal administrative unit governing Derbyshire lead
mining. The Derbyshire system of mining was largely based on local mining
customs and consisted of individual groups of miners or small mining companies
working from shafts sunk along the vein.

The monument survives as a series of earthwork, buried and standing remains
which are enclosed within a belland yard wall (a wall built around dressing
floors to prevent cattle straying and eating grass contaminated by
lead). The crushing circle is located at grid reference SK11828115 and is
supported on its southern, lower side by a drystone wall. The wall appears to
be made up of limestone deads (waste rock which contain no ore or not in
sufficient quantities to warrant extraction). The circle is well preserved
with surviving paving around the circumference and part of the edge runner
stone in the centre of the circle. The circle is approximately 7m in diameter
with the remnant of the edge runner stone approximately 17m in diameter.
Approximately 17.5m either side of the crushing circle are the remains of
shafts. These are linked to both ends of the monument by open cuts (veins
worked open to daylight) and small hillocks (mounds of waste rock). Abutting
the western edge of the belland yard wall are the remains of a small, almost
square coe (a stone-built shelter or shed) which contains the remains of
a fireplace and chimney flue.

The palisaded enclosure lies on a gently sloping shelf to the south of the
summit of Eldon Hill. The southern extremities of the enclosure extend beyond
the shelf, and the ground slopes more noticeably within this area. The
monument's hillside location commands extensive views to the south and west.
The enclosure forms an irregular `D' shape and is defined by a clearly
visible stony bank. The enclosure bank varies in size and is narrowest on
the eastern side, measuring between 2m and 2.5m wide and up to 0.3m in
height. On its southern side the enclosure bank measures up to 4m in width
and stands 0.6m high in places. The northern and western parts of the
enclosure bank appear to have been created by digging into the natural
upslope of Eldon Hill. A break in the centre of the southern side of the
enclosure bank is indicative of an entrance. A second entrance may exist
in the south west corner, although it is likely that this is a more recent
footpath or cattle trod. The ground surface within the enclosure is
uneven in places, indicating the likely presence of hut circles or other
occupation remains. No specific features have been identified within the
enclosure and a detailed metrical and/or geophysics survey is required
before such features can be properly identified.

The enclosure is comparable to several other enclosures found upon the
limestone plateau, most of which are situated on similar false crest, or
plateau locations. The form and location of the enclosure indicates that
it was used for corralling stock and may also have comprised a small
settlement. The enclosure bank is thought to have housed a palisade for
enclosing stock and protecting them from wild animals. Known surviving
examples of palisaded hilltop enclosures are situated on marginal land
that has never been ploughed and may represent only a tiny fraction of
those sites existing in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age.

A lead rake runs east to west across the northern part of the enclosure
and physically links the palisaded enclosure to the post-medieval lead
mining remains. The belland yard wall surrounding the crushing circle and
associated lead working remains sits on top of the north eastern corner of
the enclosure.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Approximately 10,000 lead industry sites are estimated to survive in England,
spanning nearly three millennia of mining history from the later Bronze Age
(c.1000 BC) until the present day, though before the Roman period it is likely
to have been on a small scale. Two hundred and fifty one lead industry sites,
representing approximately 2.5% of the estimated national archaeological
resource for the industry, have been identified as being of national
importance. This selection of nationally important monuments, compiled and
assessed through a comprehensive survey of the lead industry, is designed to
represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and
regional diversity.
The ore works were an essential part of a lead mining site, where the mixture
of ore and waste rock extracted from the ground were separated (`dressed') to
form a smeltable concentrate. The range of processes used can be summarised
as: picking out of clean lumps of ore and waste; breaking down of lumps to
smaller size (either by manual hammering or by mechanical crushing); sorting
of broken material by size; separation of gravel sized material by shaking on
a sieve in a tub of water (`jigging'); and separation of finer material by
washing away the lighter waste in a current of water (`buddling').
The field remains of ore works include the remains of crushing devices,
separating structures and tanks, tips of distinctive waste from the various
processes, together with associated water supply and power installations, such
as wheel pits and, more rarely, steam engine houses.
Simple ore dressing devices had been developed by the 16th century, but the
large majority of separate ore works sites date from the 18th and 19th
centuries, during which period the technology used evolved rapidly.
Ore works represent an essential stage in the production of metallic lead, an
industry in which Britain was a world leader in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Sites are common in all lead mining areas and a sample of the best preserved
sites (covering the regional, chronological, and typological variety of the
class) will merit protection.

A palisaded hilltop enclosure is a small defended site of domestic function
dating to the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age (c.550-440 BC). Their
distribution is largely restricted to north eastern England, the Borders
and southern Scotland. They are generally located on spurs, promontories or
hilltops covering areas of less than 0.4ha. The boundaries of these sites are
marked by single or double rock-cut trenches which originally formed the
settings for substantial palisades. Remains of circular buildings are found
within the palisaded areas, along with evidence for fenced stock enclosures.
Palisaded sites are the earliest type of defended settlement recorded in the
area and are thought to be a product of increasingly unsettled conditions in
the later prehistoric period. They imply an extensive use of timber,
confirmation that large areas were heavily wooded at this time. Although the
palisades at individual sites may have undergone several phases of replacement
or refurbishment it is thought that the tradition of building this type of
site spanned only around 150 years. After this the use of earthen banks and
ditches to form the defensive perimeter became more common. Excavation has
demonstrated that at several sites the earthen defences were preceded by
timber palisades.

Palisaded enclosures are a rare monument type with fewer than 200 known
examples. They are an important element of the later prehistoric settlement
pattern and are important for any study of the developing use of defended
settlements during the later prehistoric period. All identified surviving
examples are believed to be nationally important.

The remains of Eldon Hill crushing circle and the other associated lead mining
remains are rare and particularly well preserved. They include a diverse
range of components relating to the mining of Burning Drake vein. The
standing, earthwork and buried remains provide evidence for both the
historical and technological development of what was once a far more
extensive, multi-period mining landscape. They incorporate a range of
processing and mining features, which enable the development of the mine
working and its chronological depth to be reconstructed. Shafts, hillocks
and other extraction features provide evidence for methods of extraction
whilst the processing areas contain deposits showing the effectiveness of
these techniques. The mining remains also provide an insight into the
Derbyshire Barmote Court system of mining and the constraints this imposed
on the miners of the area.

The palisaded enclosure on Eldon Hill is part of a small, but particularly
important resource for this class of monument during the Late Bronze Age
and Early Iron Age in this region. The enclosure survives in excellent
condition and clearly retains important archaeological information both
within and beneath its defensive works. Undisturbed archaeological
remains within the enclosure will provide a valuable insight into
small-scale settlement and agriculture during the Late Bronze Age and
Early Iron Age.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hart, CR, North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey, (1984), 77
Heathcote, C, Burning Drake Lead Mine Eldon Hill, Peak Forest, Derbyshire, (1996)
Bevan, W J, 'Illustrations' in DAAC Romano-British Settlement Survey, (2000)
Bevan, W J, 'Illustrations' in DAAC Romano-British Settlement Survey, (2000)
Archives stored with Peak District NP, Butcher, L, Butcher survey project archive,
Held at Peak National Park Office, Rieuwerts, J, The Eldon Hill, Slitherstone and Linacre Mines,
Peak National Park AP collection, Photograph from run 71.438, (1971)
RCHME NGR ref.SK1180/6 frame no.63, Eldon Hill Crushing Circle,

Source: Historic England

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